Kivu lakeMethane
Gas Extraction
Putting methane
to work
Natural hazards


Economists are in agreement that the cost of oil products is THE main obstacle in the path of development of certain profiundly landlocked African countries, like Rwanda. One can easily imagine the explosion in the price of a barrel of oil extracted from a well in the Gulf, taken to Europe to be refined, brought to a petrol port like Mombasa or Dar Es-Salaam, transported overland to Kigali and then to the Cimerwa cementworks in the extreme south of the country. And yet at about 100 km from this same cementworks there is an almost inexhaustible energy supply, at moderate extraction cost. There ois an absolute treasure trove dormant in the depths of Lake Kivu.

The Cimerwa cementworks produces 100 000 tonnes of cement per year by wet process, which is greedy of calorific energy. The temeperature of the flames needed to produce clinker is around 1450 - 1500°C. This temperature can be obtained using a gas mixture of 85% methane, with 13% CO2 and 2% nitrogen. The capacity of the cementworks could be increased by a factor of three in the next three years by using a dry technique which would perlit a 50% economy in thermal energy. At the momrnt the cementworks uses 12 500 m3 of fuel oil a year. At current prices (2005) of 400 euros per m3, the oil bill for Cimerwa is about 5 million euros a year.

Using the bathymetric map of Lahmeyer and Osae as a base, 3 possible sites have been selected for methane extraction in the southern part of Lake Kivu. The most southerly extraction site would allow access to the 290 m layer ; the gas pipeline needed would be 50 km long. A more comfortable site would need a pipeline 70 km long to access a depth of 320 m. Finally, the layer most rich in gas, at 350 m, would need a gas pipeline 100 km long.

Supply by gas pipeline to the Cimerwa cementworks

Transport of the gas to the cementworks involves the construction of a gas pipeline of between 50 and 100 km, according to the site selected.